Soap Dramas and Domestic Power Struggles

Feeling I needed to rest my knee after some full-on glamping training, I decided to have a bath instead of a shower.

And I needed to warm up. It was a cold morning, and I hadn’t lit the fire because I’m going out to lunch, and the old chap is downstairs in his study. I could have put the heat pump on, but an innate meanness makes me feel I’d rather burn wood that I’ve already paid for, than use electricity that I’ll have to pay for in the future – probably through the nose.

I don’t often have a bath these days, mainly because I can’t trust myself not to go on adding more and more hot water, until I finally drag myself out, weak and exhausted from all the heat and steam, and need half an hour to cool down and recover. This seemed an attractive prospect this cold morning, so I put on the hot tap – hot first, so there isn’t a cold layer of water at the bottom, and sashayed off to make the bed.

I was waylaid by the thought that  I owed a thank you note to a friend for our dinner with them on Sunday night, so went to the computer instead. Thought I’d have a look at stats and notifications while I was there, replied to a few messages – suddenly remembered the bath! The water had reached the top, but at least was not over-flowing. But it had run cold, so I could put my hand in to let out some of the luke-warm water. As I stepped into this disappointing bath, I thought to myself – I may have to give up blogging.

I put my hand behind me into the soap dish and found it empty. Empty! I knew I’d put a fresh bar of Pears soap there only the other day. Why the old chap had to use the soap from the bath, when there were already three bars of soap in soap dishes in the hand basin was a mystery I grimly decided to solve. Three bars, because my son always gives me black Spanish glycerine soap to match my black and white bathroom. But the black soap does tend to stain white flannels, so I put an extra bar of inoffensive Pears glycerine soap there for flannel-using ablutions.

Soap has been on my mind since reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s  ‘Love in the Time of Cholera,’ a few weeks ago. One of many delicious incidents was between an elderly married couple, and how their marriage had nearly broken up thirty years before over a bar of soap. For a few days she kept forgetting to put a new bar of soap in the bathroom, and would remember each time she went in for her shower. On the third day her husband came out of the bathroom in a tantrum and accused her of leaving him without soap for a week.

Neither would back down. The petty argument developed into hostile silence between them, and he then went to stay at his club for three months – finally he had to come back home because they were re-furbishing the club, but he moved into another bedroom. He had to come through hers though, to get to the bathroom, so if she was in there, he lay on the bed, waiting. One day he fell asleep, and when he woke couldn’t be bothered to get up. “It wasn’t a week” he said. She then admitted she had meant to replace the soap each day.

It was the perfect illustration of the petty squabbles that grow into huge rifts, simply because no-one will back down, or admit they were wrong. I have some friends, married now for nearly forty years, and she told me they had had their first row the night they came back from honeymoon and moved into their first home. “Paul said the toilet roll had to have the paper hanging down behind, and I said it had to hang down the front.”

“What happened?” I asked. “I let him have his way,” she said … and she’s been letting him have his way ever since! So they’ve never had any power struggles because she just gives in. It’s when we change, that those sorts of rackets can cause relationship breakdowns. If both change, the relationship may survive, but if one can’t give up their need to control, then the other for their own self-respect has to go, or engage in endless power struggles.

There was no power struggle in this case. I simply asked him rather coldly why he needed a fourth bar of soap. The poor chap had no really convincing answer, unless domestic blindness qualifies, and in the interests of compassion I let him off the hook.

Glamping training? This is beginning to eat up as much time as blogging. Glamping is short for glamour tramping, and means we walk for some hours every day, while our luggage is delivered to our destination. We arrive at a comfy cabin, with a masseur waiting, a glass of wine and a platter of nibbles, before showering and enjoying the gourmet meal provided. We then relax into our freshly made up beds. The next morning we set off across another farm, the sea on one side, rolling hills on the other, to arrive at another destination equipped with masseur, wine, platter etc.

I’m ten years older than the friends I’m going with, and hoping I haven’t bitten off more than I can chew. Twice a day I set myself on the road, trying to get fit after months of sitting in front of the computer. After striding up and down a length of flattish road, I walk round and round the cemetery, figuring that I also need to practise walking on grass and rough terrain. I’m becoming increasingly nervous. The closer it gets I will need your prayers or goodwill, depending on whatever you think is appropriate !

Food for Threadbare Gourmets

Reading Honie Brigg’s blog on her Italian holiday has had me in a fever of greedy desire as I scrolled down the pictures of their foodie feasts. Finally last night I could stand it no more, and cancelled the plans for our evening meal. The old chap didn’t fancy mushroom risotto, so he had a steak pie with all the trimmings, and I meditated over the risotto, fortified by a glass of wine.

Gently fry an onion in a little olive oil or butter – I use a bit of both so the butter doesn’t burn. When the onion is soft, add plenty of finely chopped mushrooms – I estimate three to four per person. When they’re soft, stir in three quarters of a cup of Arborio rice, or other risotto rice, and gently fry till the grains are translucent. Add a glass of white wine and let it bubble away. Then keep adding- in small amounts- hot chicken or vegetable stock – I used vegetable bouillon cubes for this emergency risotto. When the rice is cooked and has absorbed as much hot stock as it can take, I stir in a big knob of butter, cover it and leave for about five minutes.

Serve with plenty of freshly grated Parmesan, followed by salad, and eaten with a glass of wine, of course – in this case I had a bottle of Gewurztraminer already open, so it was that. And the whole thing- served in a big white Victorian soup dish with a broad blue rim – was delectable … and the nearest I could get to Italy.

Food for Thought

The growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.                                                                         The last lines of the novel Middlemarch by George Eliot, whose real name was Mary Anne Evans. Great Victorian novelist, 1819 – 1880

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51 Comments

Filed under cookery/recipes, culture, great days, humour, life/style, Thoughts on writing and life, Uncategorized

51 responses to “Soap Dramas and Domestic Power Struggles

  1. Therese Hodgson

    Loved it and can relate to bathroom antics I always have a read at work in my lunchtime

    Sent from my iPhone

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  2. Paying through the nose just sounds so deeply uncomfortable, and I actually STACK the soap beside the bath so ‘him indoors’ can never run out, I am a shower girl.. soap bothers me not at all!! c

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    • What a fortunate person you are Celi, never to have paid through the nose – it is a deeply disturbing experience , and I hope you never have to go through it!
      NO soap in the shower???????

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      • I keep a really big bottle of emergency soap in the shower, but I am never in there long and i will be back.. and it is just the image of extracting money from ones nose that makes me shudder.. I mean the picture of it.. ee oo.. have a lovely spring day valerie.. stay clean!! c

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      • Celi, in case you’re interested, I’ve put a link on this blog to Global Oneness Day is Today….

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  3. Glamping sounds like fun, Valerie. I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful time and you and your glamp mates will simply compromise on a glamping speed! xoM

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  4. I’ll remember that phrase, and if things get a bit frantic I’ll just tell them I’m going at glamping speed! Thank you Margarita.X

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  5. I have a great quote: “A long marriage is two people trying to dance a duet and two solos at the same time.” Anne Taylor Fleming.By the way,you may be a little older, but I have feeling you are a little smarter. Your friends are going to have to keep up with you.:)

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    • Hello Rebecca – a great quote indeed – gets it perfectly…
      My friends will be kind to me I know – one of them has already read this blog, I discovered at Tai Chi tonight. She’s now decided she’d better get fit striding up and down their steep stony country drive!
      The things we do for fun!
      ,

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  6. Valerie,

    Men could never find things if they were right in front of them – it’s just a “man thing.” If I didn’t ignore things like this, I would go mad or be in constant battle mode.

    We pay through the nose for electricity here too, so hate to use much A/C in summer. Of course in the desert you have to use some, but we keep the temp control set at 80 or 82 figuring that’s do-able. In the winter, we pay the gas company, which isn’t quite as bad as the electric rates, but still high enough on a fixed income. So the sweaters and woolies come out and the temp control usually never is set above 66 or 68, if we can help it.

    Your glamping sounds great! I bet you’ll do better than you think. That’s exactly what I need after the week I spent sitting around at the in-laws (when I wasn’t repairing or cleaning something).

    Sunni

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    • Oh Sunni, your comments made me laugh… sounds as though you’re up against it, trying to be a good daughter in law – hope you get your reward, even if it isn’t glamping!
      Lovely to hear from you…

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      • Sunni, in case you’re interested, I’ve put a link on this blog to Global Oneness day is Today..
        Also, I so often want toput a comment on your blog, and I get stopped with “your URl” is incorrect – which it isn’t – I try everything.. wish you had a like button!

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  7. I remember giggling as a child at my next door neighbour’s ranting about only being able to find single socks. “I buy my socks in pairs,” he’d yell to his wife, “Pat, don’t I buy my socks in pairs.” They remained happily married until their deaths so between them they obviously managed to sort the sock issue 🙂 I love George Eliot, haven’t read Middlemarch for ages.

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  8. Loved your article, so realistic and true to life, thanks

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  9. Loved the movie…love in the time of Cholera…really special!!

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  10. I can see why these petty power struggles lead to disaster…only I’m not sure one person giving in all the time is the answer? But on a positive note, glamping sounds so much more fun than tramping! And what a beautiful place you live in to do that 🙂

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    • Giving in all the time is definitely not the answer! If I’d been there I would have said the Toilet rolls are my department – you stick to yours! But she never did, and their marriage survived because she always gave in. Not for me! Yes, I think glamping is the way to go! no heavy backpacks to carry, trying to heat up some soup cubes at night and tossing in a sleeping bag!! Lovely to hear from you…

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  11. Glamping sounds like a great idea, good for you!! Great exercise! As for the soap phenomena, it is very much a mystery to me and I also love soaps!! I collect them, sometimes hesitate to use them!! Love them, Love the boxes, The wrappings, the smell of every little thing, ohhh it is just something that is a little world of its own. I love “Pear”, , One called “sugar”…Magnolia…Violet, Oh…it is the soap, not the bath or shower….and I use them for hand washing as well for the smell!! Yum, Yum

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    • Hello LInda,
      I know what you mean abo9ut soap… the good ones come in such beautiful wrappings and boxes, I never want to use them… Often they go into my clothes drawers so I enjoy the fragrance every time I get some clean clothes out.
      I’ve put up a link on my blog about World Oneness Day Today, if you’re interested. can’t work out how to do it more effectively, but no doubt Spirit can manage without me!

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  12. Glamping sounds fun and interesting, especially the end of the day!

    I redid my bath last year and came with a perfect solution, his and hers soap spots for both shower and bath. Now there is no more discussion I use ‘girly’ soap and he uses ‘boy’ soap never will he think to bath with mine unless he wants to smell like a girl.

    I think marriage is always a dance where each must lead through the steps they know. Sometimes it is a waltz, sedate and beautiful other times it is the tango, passionate and fiery. Each of the partners need to recognize the others strength, smile and pass the lead.

    As always, wonderfully done.

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    • Lovely to hear from you Valentine… your bathroom sounds like a great idea… this is the first time we’ve had to share a bathroom for years,,, and it takes a bit if getting used to!
      Loved your beautiful words on Marriage…and thank you for your appreciation..
      I’ve tacked a link to Global Oneness Day Today onto the blog if you’re interested…

      Like

  13. Hi Valerie, I realize you have probably been nominated for plenty of awards, but I so enjoy your blog that I would like to burden you with another one – the One Lovely Blog Award. Please visit my site to see the protocol should you wish to accept. Thanks!

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    • Michele, thank you so much for thinking of me for the One LOvely Blog Award, and I’m very honoured and touched that you should have done so. I still haven’t mastered how to cope with awards, and have decided in the interests of other bloggers, who are missing out because of my tardiness and incompetence, that I should opt out of awards.
      So thank you so much again, but I have to say, no thank you.
      I’ve tacked a link to Global Oneness Day is Today onto this blog, if you’re interested.
      So good to hear from you, valerie

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      • Michele, I’m mortified in re-reading this reply to you, to see that I didn’t congratulate you on winning your lovely blog awards, so well deserved, and i’m looking forward to reading more of your posts, Valerie

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  14. Pat

    Interesting – I thought Glamping was posh camping! Hope you get on OK.
    And risotto – is one of my favourites. I class this as fast food, which I know it isn’t really, but it is absolutely lovely. When there’s very little else to eat in the house, there is always risotto rice and a packet of peas in the freezer and my husband thinks he has been done good to if I give him pea risotto with lashings of parmesan, a tomato salad and a glass of red!

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    • Hello Pat,
      Good to hear from you…no Glamping can’t be posh if I’m doing it!
      Yes risotto is both my fallback posiiton, and my treat especially if I have some good stock wanting to be used…I’d love the red wine, but my liver wouldn’t!
      I’ve tacked a link onto this blog about Global Oneness Day is Today, if you’re interested…

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  15. Glamping sounds amazing! Sign me up!!

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  16. I would love to go ‘glamping’. I have never heard of the experience and just doing it would be a delight!

    I wonder if I would be fit enough, I only really walk on the farm, but it does have hills and dales and other such nonsense, but not hours and hours and hours of it.

    Linda
    http://coloradofarmlife.wordpress.com
    http://deltacountyhistoricalsociety.wordpress.com

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    • Dear Linda,
      I’ve just gone back in the archives, and can’t find this showing up in the comments, so I think that many of your lovely messages to me have gone astray into the wretched spam file.There are others from you here too, that I obviously never replied to (and didn’t have the pleasure of reading at the time)
      I will check after every post now just in case you’ve made a comment, I think it’s awful that you may feel I haven’t acknowledged your lovely messages, Love Valerie

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  17. I’ll certainly be taking a lot off bloggers with me in spirit, if the comments are anything to go by!
    Lovely to hear from you… I’ve tacked a link onto this blog about Global Oneness Day is Today if you’re interested…

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  18. I have nominated your blog for the new Reality Blog Award! Congratulations! This is a “no rules Award”, you can find the details here: http://paharidotme.wordpress.com

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  19. I can’t wait to hear about the glamping! when do you go? And I need to make some of that risotto.

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  20. I have nominated you for the Beautiful Blogger Award in recognition of your great blog. I sincerely hope you will accept this award. http://tersiaburger.com/2012/10/24/beautiful-blogger-award-2/

    Like

    • How you have time to keep up with blogging while you’re so busy looking after your family as well as preparing for your trip, I don’t know!
      First of all, congratulations on your well deserved award, you certainly are a Beautiful Blogger. .I loved reading about you, and agree that Christmas cakes should be R18, or whatever the rating for adult films is in your part of the world!
      Thank you so much for thinking of me for a nomination – I’m very touched and honoured that you should include me in your list.
      However, I’ve decided that I should not accept any more awards… I have a stash I still haven’t manged to do anything with, and am going to have to pay someone to come and help me cope with them. So I feel that I’m blocking off other bloggers who deserve awards by not passing them on. I also love reading all the different blogs, and I’d hate to choose between them…
      So for all these reasons, I must say thank you, but no thank, good friend

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  21. Love the link to Love in the Time of Cholera, I enjoyed this novel too.
    Glamping sounds like a lot of fun and I am sure you’ll do just fine – and if not, then make the most of that massage service. Brilliant!

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  22. Why IS it that men cannot find anything? Is it because something must be moved in order to see it? Everything cannot be right under the nose! DUD! Love the post? Glamping…gotta’ remember that:>)

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  23. Yes, I have to keep reminding myself that domestic blindness is a congenital affliction of the male species!
    So glad you enjoyed the post, Sharla… yes, glamping sounds hilarious, doesn’t it!

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  24. I love risotto! Sounds delish. I want to go glamping. Sound like the best of all worlds.

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